Elmwood Pediatrics' Guide to the Flu
Influenza, or the flu, is a seasonal and very common illness. Each year the influenza virus evolves, making it difficult to prevent long-term. Therefore, it is recommended that you and your child get a flu vaccine each year, sometime in the fall or early winter ideally.
Even though the symptoms are similar to the common cold, they can become severe enough to lead to other illnesses and even cause death. On average 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized due to the flu, and nearly 140 pediatric deaths are related to it each year.
Tips for Preventing the Flu
There are a number of measures that the CDC recommends that you and your child should take to avoid getting and spreading the flu. These include:
Avoid close contact. Especially contact with those who are sick. When you are sick you should also avoid contact with others.
Stay home when you are sick. Not only will this help prevent the spread of germs, but it will ensure that you don't over-exert yourself if you are sick.
Cover your mouth and nose. Sneezing and coughing are the easiest ways for viruses to spread. Cover your mouth if you are sick.
Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands often, not just when you use the restroom. You pick up a lot of germs on your hands throughout the day, and if you're out in public during flu season, there's a good chance you'll pick up the flu.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Even if you keep your hands clean, viruses easily enter the body through the orifices on your face.
Practice good health habits. Make sure to disinfect surfaces that are touched a lot. For example, wipe down a shopping cart handle with a wipe before using. Additionally, make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat nutritious food and drink a lot of fluids.
Make sure you teach these good habits to your child so when they are not by your side, they will help prevent the flu from spreading.
The flu season can start in October and last until May, but the bulk of flu cases happen between December through February. There have been sporadic cases of flu in New York state for the past month, and the prevalence of flu illness is just starting to increase.
The flu for the most part is a self-limited illness. Eventually it will pass with plenty of rest and drinking a lot of fluids. Your body will usually fight the infection on its own.
However, if you or your child is having signs of severe illness, you have questions about your health, or you are not sure if you have the flu, please call our office. Signs of severe illness include lethargy, increased work of breathing or respiratory rate, voiding less or dry mouth (signs of dehydration), high fever or fever that persists more than a few days, worsening pain, and other symptoms.
We are here to help your child stay well and become well and to answer questions. Call us at our Clinton Crossing office at (585) 244-9720 or our Bushnell's Basin office at (585) 381-3780.
Information received from www.cdc.gov